This photo was taken exactly 11 months ago, in another Canucks/Flames game in Calgary.
Let’s see… That guy has vanished. That guy is a superdouche. That guy has a wonky eye.
That guy got traded to Florida. And that guy with the funny hip has his clothes on.
(Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Game #12 – Canucks @ Flames
The Canucks have owned the Flames over the last few seasons, especially in Calgary. However, the month of October once again treated the Canucks like its Daddy and threw the Canucks down the Western Conference standings. Luckily for the Canucks, their rainy Octobers almost always lead to sunny Novembers.
As the Canucks begin November in Cowtown, they’ll be hoping that their dominance over the Flames and November shows itself once more. Another strong performance over the Flames will be an excellent way for the Canucks to kickstart a six-game road trip, which begins tonight at the Saddledome.
Game Time: 6:30 PM PT
The Flames are middling again around .500, just like the Vancouver Canucks. The difference with the two teams is that most people are counting down the days for the Canucks to break out of their meandering start, whereas there are few expectating the Flames to be anything more than a .500 team. Nobody is really sure if the Flames are trying to rebuild, or reload with an infusion of talent. The perfect example of the Flames situation is Matt Stajan. Supposedly a top-six center, Stajan has been scratched for a few games already this year, yet returns to the lineup tonight against the Canucks. While people in the Vancouver organization seem confident that the team will simply work their way out of it (and sooner rather than later, too), the Flames seem to still be looking for their components to work together.
We can expect to see some goals in the first period, though. Both teams score 1+ goals per game in the first period, so I can imagine these teams trying to come out firing to catch the other off-guard. For the Canucks, their plan has to be to keep up the firing line all game long. Oh and to keep an eye on Tim Jackman. The fourth line winger has been a massive thorn in the side of the Canucks lately. When the Canucks biggest problem is to watch out for the Flames fourth line winger, they’re doing okay.
The Canucks coaching staff must have liked what they’ve seen over the last few games, because the lineup remains unchanged. That includes Alexander Sulzer as the sixth defenceman, who skates in his third straight game. Sulzer has been solid and a clear improvement so far over Andrew Alberts, who’s been brutal this season. Sulzer has been a pleasant surprise and a welcome addition to the defence that has struggled to find a steady footing.
Hopefully for Canucks fans, the Capitals game was the turning point as they move from their typically dismal October into their usually electric November.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
- Watch the tape from your last game, against the Capitals, and do that again. The Flames do not have the firepower to keep up, and even when they do have players who are supposedly there to hit the scoresheet, they’ve been scratched (Matt Stajan!). The Canucks don’t have a problem scoring goals, and the Flames do. In their last four games in Calgary, the Canucks have outscored the Flames 19-8.
- Keep the heat on the Flames, all the way through the game. The Flames look like they run out of gas as the games wind down. Whereas the Canucks are always good for some final-frame tallies. The Canucks need to make sure that they step on the gas through all three periods, especially as they get to the third period.
- Make your special teams count. The Flames penalty killing at home is awful at only 76.2%, while the Canucks road power play is humming along around 23.8%. The Canucks need to take advantage of this HUGE discrepency and make their chances count with the man-up. Calgary’s home power play is an astonishingly bad 9.5%, good for last in the league, and it faces the Canucks road PK, which is working at 84.0%. While the Canucks road PK isn’t tremendous, the Flames home PP is downright terrible. The Canucks have a HUGE edge tonight – they need to make this count.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game: